No news on the day installation | News
Although the question was voiced several times during Friday morning’s online meeting of the Pitkin County Housing Stability Coalition, it was never answered.
Who will run the local day shelter for the homeless on April 1, the day after its longtime operator, the nonprofit Aspen Homeless Shelter, is scheduled to leave?
Plans are still evolving, according to the consultant who is assisting the nonprofit with its March 31 closure of all services.
“First and foremost, I want to say that we don’t know the answer to the question of what happens on April 1,” said consultant John Dougherty. “What we do know is that the structure we put in place for individuals helps us identify the level and type of need people come to Aspen Homeless Shelter.”
The association announced at the end of December that after 13 years of service, it would cease its activities at the end of March. In addition to the day shelter in the County Health and Human Services building, the nonprofit operated a seasonal overnight shelter for many years at several locations, primarily St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen.
This winter, the overnight shelter opened Nov. 1 at Aspen Chapel, but was jointly operated by Aspen Homeless Shelter and another nonprofit, Recovery Resources. The December 23 announcement that AHS would close on March 31 accompanied another notice that the overnight winter shelter would close the following morning, Christmas Eve.
Recovery Resources, which has offices and a drug rehabilitation center in the county’s social services building, is helping the Aspen homeless shelter train staff for work that will continue through March. At the time of the shelter’s seasonal closure, Recovery Resources provided temporary emergency housing for 10 of its regular users.
Dougherty, director of Human Service Innovations, was recently involved in reorganization efforts at regional nonprofit LiftUp, which is headquartered in Rifle and operates thrift stores and food pantries.
He said the day shelter was only receiving an average of seven to 12 people a day, a marked drop from the 30 to 40 people who traveled daily before the pandemic to access food, clothing and showers, as well as information. on employment and health services.
Dougherty said that of the seven to 12 people still seeking help at the day shelter, their main focus “apparently is to get food aid”. Some of them have housing and some don’t, and many of them don’t want secure housing, he said.
He said Aspen Homeless Shelter is looking to other community partners to find out how to meet future needs such as food and food delivery.
“I know it’s not a straight answer on what happens on April 1, but we are already seeing a significant decrease in the number of people entering [the day shelter] and we get a lot more clarity on their real needs. And the staff there are working really hard to make sure we align them with other community supports and resources that might better meet their needs,” Dougherty said.
Nan Sundeen, director of social services for Pitkin County, pointed out that the space used by the day shelter is rented to Pitkin County free of charge.
“…We are fully committed to having some type of day program,” said Sundeen, whose role is filled by Lindsay Maisch, assistant director of social services. Sundeen officially retires on March 1.
“Whether it’s just April 1st, or if we have a lag or whatever, we’re looking at our options, considering [a request for proposals]to determine the best use of space,” Sundeen said.
During Friday’s meeting — the coalition since Dec. 23 announcements about the closure of the Aspen homeless shelter and overnight facility — a “spot” count of the city’s homeless population region was provided. In January, the number was 70 in Pitkin County and 114 in Garfield County.
In December, the nonprofit Aspen Homeless Shelter’s chairman of the board, Bill Hodges, cited the reason for AHS’s disbandment. He said a new organization, capable of delivering services in a new way “that can sustainably meet today’s needs,” was needed to emerge in place of AHS.
The announcements late last year followed the October retirement announcement of longtime AHS director Dr. Vince Savage.